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Deaf dog helps owner win grant for Cleveland shelter

The adventures of a Cuyahoga County pup have changed several lives, all while teaching others it's okay to be differe...

Posted: Dec 21, 2017 9:09 PM
Updated: Dec 21, 2017 9:09 PM

The adventures of a Cuyahoga County pup have changed several lives, all while teaching others it's okay to be different.

Acorn, a one-year-old mixed breed dog, is one good boy but his initial bad behavior almost cost him a happy home.

"He was struggling at the kennel," said Michelle Harvanek, the Shelter Operations Manager at Cleveland Care and Control. "He was throwing his bowl around making a racket."

In the hopes of finding some relief, volunteer Mary Motley, was asked if she would be willing to take him home.

"I thought, 'Oh it will be so much fun to have a puppy for the weekend,'" Motley said. "Well he was wild, he was out of control and he didn't listen."

What everyone did not know is Acorn's world is silent, he was born deaf. Instead of putting limits on his life, Motley decided to learn a new way to communicate.

"I thought about learning American Sign Language but by the time I learned that he would be about ten years old...that's not going to work," Motley said.

So Motley made up her own, each signal a command unlocking new keys to Acorn's heart. Her devotion to Acorn drew national attention from the Petco Foundation.

Wednesday the shelter that helped make their bond permanent, City Dogs Cleveland, received a surprise $5,000 dollar check to help create more forever homes. Shelter employees say the grant came at the perfect time.

"We do have 87 dogs up for adoption right now which is pretty high," said Harvanek.

A new shelter is currently under construction at Detroit and West 93rd and planned to open next December. In the meantime, adoption fees have dropped from $61 dollars to $40 dollars through Christmas Eve.

For Motley used to show dogs, her shelter pup taught her how to listen with her eyes and hear with her heart.

"He can do anything a regular dog can do and go beyond," said Motley.

When Acorn grows into adulthood, Motley hopes to have him work with children that are hearing impaired to show there are no limitations to being deaf.

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